OBERLIN, Ohio — On Monday, Oberlin’s City Council was ready to eliminate Columbus Day and replace it with Indigenous Peoples’ Day; however, in a bid to seek another solution, Order ISDA President Basil M Russo took to the podium and articulated why the national holiday must be preserved as it symbolizes and celebrates Italian American heritage.
Backed by more than 60 supporters at the council meeting, Russo noted that Italian immigrants began celebrating Columbus Day with parades in the late 1800s “in an effort to deal with the prejudices they were confronted with and in an effort to establish a sense of dignity and self-worth.”
Since its designation as an official holiday some 80 years ago, the Italian American community is now able to “collectively celebrate their culture, heritage and traditions by acknowledging the sacrifices, accomplishments and contributions their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents have made to our country,” he said.
Basil M Russo, President, Order ISDA
Russo argued that abolishing Columbus Day diminishes the current struggle of the Italian American community to preserve its heritage, further suggesting the move reveals “the inherent unfairness of promoting one group’s rights and interests by trampling upon the rights and interests of another group.”
He also questioned why Italian-Americans had been left out of discussions throughout Oberlin’s months-long initiative to abolish the holiday, and offered the following:
“The Italian American community has always supported the designation of an Indigenous People’s Day as it is certainly most rightly and most justly deserved. May we respectfully suggest the day after Thanksgiving, or August 9th (the day the United Nations has designated as Indigenous Peoples’ Day throughout the world) to be considered as alternate options.”
Despite voting unanimously for the abolishment and replacement resolution on two prior readings, Oberlin City Council decided to push the final vote to August 21st.
In conclusion, Russo urged the Council to “show the Italian American community the same degree of respect and compassion you have been willing to extend to the Native American community in this process thus far, so we may come to a conclusion that is fair and respectful to all.”
If the city moves forward with the resolution as proposed, it would be the first in Ohio to establish Indigenous Peoples’ Day.
Join the Cause to Preserve Columbus Day
Contact Oberlin City Council members, and respectfully propose that Indigenous Peoples’ Day be celebrated on one of the alternate dates listed above.
Vice President of Council
ISDA leadership, members and supporters plan on attending the August 21st Oberlin City Council meeting, and we encourage others to do so as well to support the preservation of Columbus Day.
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